The Value of a First Article Inspection (FAI) Report

January 24, 2020

The Value of a First Article Inspection (FAI) Report

Aerospace is one of the few industries with a defined standard for First Article Inspection, so potential customers in other industries sometimes ask us, "What is the value of a FAI Report?"

For new parts, the FAI helps validate the following before the manufacturer moves into ongoing production:

  • The manufacturer has identified and incorporated all associated requirements and specifications.
  • The manufacturer's processes are capable of producing a conforming part.
  • The customer accepts the supplier-provided information.

In most manufacturing industries, the data for the first article inspection is derived from a single source, either a drawing or a 3D model. Within the aerospace industry, either source can reference other documents and standards without specifically identifying them in the source documents. The completed FAI confirms that the supplier has identified all necessary requirements and implemented them into its manufacturing process. Having a formal process for reviewing and signing off on the requirements early in the process, prior to full scale production, dramatically reduces the chance of quality and specification problems being found when a part is being placed into an assembly.

First Article Inspection (FAI) Report Drawing and Data Model

With a large commercial airplane, there are hundreds of thousands of individual parts that must fit together seamlessly. If there is a problem with fit, then having easy access to the FAI Report helps with determining which features are causing a problem and identifying the supplier for remedial action.

Contrary to popular belief, a FAI is not only created after the first production run. The FAI aerospace standard (AS9102) explicitly mentions that the process should be repeated any time changes occur that invalidate the original results. The standard describes the following scenarios:

  1. A change in the design characteristics affecting fit, form, or function of the part.
  2. A change in manufacturing source(s), process(es), inspection method(s), location of manufacture, tooling, or materials that can potentially affect fit, form, or function.
  3. A change in numerical control program or translation to another media that can potentially affect fit, form, or function.
  4. A natural or man-made event, which may adversely affect the manufacturing process.
  5. An implementation of corrective action required to complete a previous FAI.
  6. A lapse in production for two years shall require an update for any characteristics that may be impacted by the inactivity. This lapse is from the completion of last production operation to the actual restart of production.

First Article Inspection (FAI) Reporting from AS9102 Standard Scenarios

The requirements defined by the standard are based on root causes that the aerospace industry identified as reasons for escapement and quality issues. Any change to the manufacturing process increases the probability that the product will deviate from the original approved FAI report, so if your supplier must perform either a full FAI or a partial FAI when any of the above elements occur, then this dramatically reduces the risk of unintentional departure from the original specification.

Lastly, the greatest value the FAI provides is access to the data within the FAI Report. This data can be used to identify common process or material providers across multiple parts. This is particularly important if, for example, a defect is found in a batch of material, or if you need to notify suppliers that a processor has been removed from an approved supplier list. It can also be used to assess suppliers' capability, not just in meeting specifications, but for manufacturing parts to the design specification.

Do you plan to start creating or receiving FAIs for the first time? Contact the Net-Inspect Team at +1 425-233-6176 or [email protected] to learn more about Net-Inspect's FAI Software Solution. Click the Contact Us button below request a live demo or phone consultation today.